Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster is claiming that college students who pay out-of-state tuition rates and vote in state are committing voter fraud. At a press conference at the Maine State House, Webster gave the media a list of over 200 students — their names redacted — who paid out-of-state tuition rates but were registered to vote in the state.
Webster said he came up with the list because of opposition from voter rights groups to a law passed by the Republican-led legislature in June which banned voter registration on Election Day. A coalition of groups have launched a petition drive to overturn the law.
One problem. The University of Maine only allows individuals who previously lived in Maine — those who aren’t just living into the state to attend school — to pay a discounted in-state tuition rate.
And Webster provided absolutely zero evidence that the students — the vast majority of whom were born in the late 80s and early 90s, based on Webster’s list — voted both in their home state and in Maine.
As the Sun Journal reported:
According to Maine state law, students are eligible to register to vote in the municipality in which they attend school, as long as they have established residency there. There is not a period of time required for a person to establish residency. The University of Maine System has different guidelines to establish student residency. A student may only be granted in-state tuition if he or she has proven that she has established residency for reasons other than academic, regardless of the length of time that he or she has lived in Maine.
The Bangor Daily News reported that Carney failed “to provide any further details such as: How many of the 206 students named actually voted twice? How many of them registered in Maine on Election Day? How many officially declared primary residency in Maine?”
Asked for those specifics, Webster said that he did not have the resources to get that data.”I only dealt with what was the easiest thing to find,” the GOP chairman said.
Webster, the newspaper reported, said he had personally witnessed “poll flooding” by special interest groups like MoveOn.org, ACORN and “the Democrat party.”
He also wasn’t clear on exactly how stopping people from registering on Election Day would specifically stop “voter fraud” rather than simply making it more difficult for everyone to vote. The documents that Webster provided are available here and here.